by Matt Prindiville, NRCM Clean Production Project Director
Senator McCormick, Representative Strang-Burgess and members of the Committee. My name is Matt Prindiville and I’m the Clean Production Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). NRCM supports LD 492 and we thank Representative Hinck for bringing this issue to the attention of the Committee.
I know you’ve heard plenty about the science and hazards of cadmium today and of their presence in children’s products, and I won’t repeat what you’ve already heard. I would just like to make a few brief points. I know Committee members may question how this law will be enforced given the state’s resources.
To answer this, I think it’s useful to step back in time to 2008, when this committee took up the issue of lead in children’s products. As you may remember, there was a flood of recalls on toys and other products from the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to high levels of lead on painted toys as well as certain types of plastic toys. This committee voted to set a standard for lead in children’s toys which mirrored the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The enforcement issue was raised then as well, and this Committee and the Legislature decided that it was important to send a signal to the marketplace as well as the federal government that high lead levels in toys will not be tolerated by the Maine legislature. At that time, federal regulations only prohibited the sale of lead-painted products if lead was present at more than 600 parts per million (ppm). The new Maine law expanded the ban on lead to include lead added to vinyl plastic used in some toys, sleeping pads, other child care articles and soft lunch boxes. The law also banned metallic lead used in cheap children’s jewelry, which is currently exempt from regulation under federal policy.
Many of your colleagues in other state legislatures did the same thing. These actions at the state level drove the federal government to adopt strong new standards, mirroring the state laws, for lead in children’s products. While the state laws were preempted on this issue, it was still the states taking action that forced the marketplace, the manufacturers and the federal government to do the right thing.
You’re now faced with a very similar bill on cadmium. Indeed, it feels a little bit like we’re playing whack a mole here at the state level – get rid of lead; then they replace it with cadmium. Until we have meaningful reform of our nation’s chemical safety laws, it may be that we have to keep playing whack-a-mole on these issues pertaining to toxic chemicals. I do know this, though and history will prove this point– without states taking action, we’ll never have effective reform at the federal level, so we urge you to support this bill. Thank you for your time, and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.